I take advantage of the small break a sick leave is allowing me to look back on the 2 last months and do what a blog is meant for: write down random thoughts about life, the universe and everything*. And also I’m bored staying home doing nothing.
Since last November and my trip to the Netherlands, I didn’t plan to travel anymore for a while. Winter is not a good season for this, planes get canceled, weather is awful, especially in Europe. So I’m sparing holidays for spring and summer.
But still 2010 was a very good year for travels ! (I don’t think I posted this map already here)
But after this, while staying home, I could host travelers who still likes Paris anytime.
It started with Agneszka from Warsaw. Very talkative girl who arrived with a bottle of polish vodka. Which surprised me knowing she landed from a Ryanair flight. But we find polish vodka in french supermarkets !
A week later I went to a board game night in a tremendous apartment right in the center of Paris, last floor and a 360° view on the city. This was organized by a Maltese girl I wanted to meet to talk about this Island (where I’ll go 10 days from now). There I met 2 Americans in need for a place to stay from the day after. So I hosted Ashley and her cousin Elliott last minute. Ashley was on her way to study in Australia and all her life fitted in a 13kg backpack. Respect.
Then I got a strange request from a crazy Londoner that wanted to go to the Santacon. Michael came to Paris only for this. Like the year before it was a great demonstration. I still was a bit disappointed by the number of participants. It didn’t grow as much as I expected. Still 200 Santas are impressive.
Then the Christmas holidays started. Not for me because I went on working but I still call the 2 last weeks of December this way. Jakob, Miriam and Tove were the first guest of the period. They were Swedish studying French for a semester in the south. We went to l’International and the monday CS quizz. Instead of coming back by plane like his friends, Jakob used a night train to Germany. This way I learned you can also go to Moscow by train. it only takes 3 days. I didn’t know long distance train travels are still fashionable.
Christmas came with its traditional family meetings. I hosted my brother and we went to Orléans (100km south of Paris) for diner and continued with another big meal the day after. End of the (short) family break.
On the 26th Tansu & Susie, a turko-sino-french couple crashed at my place for a few nights. They offered a diner chez Prosper (the restaurant I went to the most often in Paris, maybe 10 times so far) and we went to a second CS monday quizz in a row. Great but we still didn’t won.
After this lovely couple, 3 Texans arrived. Katie, Raleigh and Brandon took me to maybe the most cosy and expensive cocktail bar in town. Interesting. They spent also new years eve with me and for the first time after 7 years living in the region I went to the Eiffel tower at this occasion. So from 00:00 to 00:05 the tower is blinking … like it does every hour, all year round. The only difference is that there are plenty of drunk people to look at it with you. They enjoyed it a lot anyway, because they didn’t saw it before.
The day after Chris & June arrived. I declined their first request because I was already hosting at the time. But I met them at the Monday quizz, we talked a bit and a few days later they requested again ! This time I was available. Those Americans were at the end of a 4 month European trip. I think that made them very open-minded. For instance they enjoyed foie gras, while the previous didn’t like it (my friend who brought it was shocked :p). For the first time since I got it for Christmas we played to the Settlers of Catan. Very enjoyable, they said they would buy it once back in the US.
Right after them a French guy came for one night for a job. But he made a confusion in the days so I was available only from 11pm. I didn’t saw him a lot.
10 days later a Lithuanian couple came. Karolis & Monika were very curious about what to do and not do while being hosted. It was their first time using this way of traveling. They didn’t mind waking up ridiculously early the last morning because I had to catch the first Eurostar to London.
So now it was my turn to be hosted. I spent a week working in Cambridge. A lovely city, the British cyclists capital. Really it’s like Holland. My hosts were tremendous cooks and also lent me a bike to commute. Nice surprise: my host worked just beside were I worked so he showed me the best way to cycle through the city. I spent a great week there, which ended with a too short weekend in London, hosted by Michael (from the Santacon). In London I visited Stanfords, a huge maps and travel books store. By itself, it could be a sufficient reason to come back.
Once back in Paris, I restarted hosting. First Rosario & Maui, 2 Chilean girls on a European trip. We happened to hit the Monday quizz again, still without success, other than meeting people from all over the world.
Right after them, I hosted Alex. He was supposed to stay for 4 days but stayed 8 and left today only. We went cycling in Paris and geocaching during the weekend. I didn’t used the GPS since last November. He’s studying urbanism, so he likes maps to and we had great talks. Although staying a long time he was very uncomplicated and laid-back.
And today a German girl arrives …
Since I started couchsurfing almost 3 years ago, here is a map that summarize everything.
Blue: hosted only. Yellow: surfed only. Green: both.